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Markel Insurance Co. v. Hollandsworth

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 8, 2019

MARKEL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD HOLLANDSWORTH, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          William J. Martínez United States District Judge.

         In this insurance dispute, Plaintiff Markel Insurance Company (“MIC”) seeks a declaratory judgment that Defendant Edward Hollandsworth is not entitled to coverage under the uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM/UIM”) portion of his employer's insurance policy (the “Policy”). (ECF No. 1.) Hollandsworth filed counterclaims seeking a declaratory judgment that he is entitled to coverage under the Policy, as well as claiming breach of contract and statutory bad faith breach of an insurance contract under Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 10-3-1115 & -1116. (ECF No. 12.)

         Now before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. The parties seek clarity from this Court about whether Hollandsworth may recover under the UM/UIM portion of his employer's Policy in addition to the workers' compensation scheme. (ECF Nos. 23 & 24.) MIC also seeks summary judgment in its favor on Hollandsworth counterclaims for breach of contract and statutory bad faith breach of an insurance contract. (ECF No. 24 at 11-12.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds as a matter of law that Hollandsworth is not entitled to coverage under the Policy. The Court thus will grant MIC's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24), deny Hollandsworth's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23), direct entry of judgment for MIC, and terminate the case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The material facts are not disputed. The following summary is drawn from the undisputed facts of the parties' motions and exhibits submitted in support thereof.

         Hollandsworth's employer, Southern Colorado Rural Emergency Medical Services, Inc. d/b/a Med Trans Ambulance (“Southern Colorado”), maintained the Policy through MIC. (ECF No. 23 at 2, ¶¶ 1-2; ECF No. 24 at 2-3, ¶¶ 1, 5, 6.) The Policy included commercial automobile insurance and UM/UIM insurance coverage in the amount of $300, 000. (ECF No. 23 at 3, ¶ 10; ECF No. 24 at 2, 4, ¶¶ 1, 8.) T he UM/UIM portion of the Policy states that MIC will “pay all sums the ‘insured' is legally entitled to recover as compensatory damages from the owner or driver of an ‘uninsured motor vehicle.'” (ECF No. 23 at 3, ¶ 11; ECF No. 24 at 3, ¶ 3.) The Policy states that MIC “will not pay for any element of ‘loss' if a person is entitled to receive payment for the same element of ‘loss' under any workers' compensation, disability benefits, or similar law.” (ECF No. 24 at 3, ¶ 4; ECF No. 24-1 at 51.)

         On July 13, 2015, Hollandsworth was in a automobile accident at work while riding as a passenger in a Southern Colorado ambulance, which was insured under the Policy and driven by Donald Cook, another employee of Southern Colorado. (ECF No. 23 at 2-3, ¶¶ 1, 3-5, 8; ECF No. 24 at 3, ¶¶ 5-6.) The “accident arose out of and during the course of both Mr. Hollandsworth's and Mr. Cook's employment with Southern Colorado.” (ECF No. 23 at 3, ¶ 6; ECF No. 24 at 3, ¶ 5.) Following the accident, Hollandsworth claimed and received workers' compensation benefits. (ECF No. 23 at 3, ¶ 7; ECF No. 24 at 4, ¶ 7.)

         On or around June 1, 2018, Hollandsworth notified MIC that he had “incurred serious injuries as a result of the negligence of [MIC's] insured [Mr. Cook], ” that he sought UM/UIM benefits under the Policy, and that his injuries and damages likely exceeded the $300, 000 limit for UM/UIM benefits under the Policy. (ECF No. 24 at 4, ¶ 8; ECF No. 23 at 3-4, ¶ 11.) MIC acknowledged the claim and advised Hollandsworth that it would investigate the claim subject to a reservation of rights. (ECF No. 23 at 4, ¶ 13; ECF No. 24 at 4, ¶ 9.) MIC then filed this declaratory judgment action.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the factfinder or, conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132 (10th Cir. 2000). A fact is “material” if, under the relevant substantive law, it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs., Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 2001). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it might lead a reasonable trier of fact to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Allen v. Muskogee, 119 F.3d 837, 839 (10th Cir. 1997).

         In analyzing a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). In addition, the Court must resolve factual ambiguities against the moving party, thus favoring the right to a trial. See Houston v. Nat'l Gen. Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Court has diversity jurisdiction over this lawsuit (see ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1-4), and thus applies Colorado law.

         The Colorado courts have addressed the interplay of the Colorado Workers Compensation Act, Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 8-41-101 et seq. (“WCA”), and Colorado's UM/UIM statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-4-609, several times, although never the precise question before the Court. “Where no controlling state decision exists, the federal court must attempt to predict what the state's highest court would do.” Wankier v. ...


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